Archive for July 2011
The butt of the joke in this commercial is the immaturity of fully-grown men. It’s a safe target. Why? Because, according to altruism and egalitarianism (today’s dominant moral ideals), anything which does not serve those who are weaker – anything which exists to enrich a strong, competent person’s already contented life – is prima facia immoral. Even if an altruist or egalitarian doesn’t chastise a man for not sacrificing his surplus wealth to starving people on the other side of the world, or to bums down the street, or to birds in some far off wilderness he will never see, he should at least regard his relationship with his family as a self-sacrificial duty, “grow up”, and spend his money on something “appropriate.” Why? Because his family members are weaker than him and they need him. But, the issue of gender politics is non-essential here. It’s a side show meant to distract. The idea that he would willingly give up the little things he desires because the well-being or personal growth of his family members is of greater personal value to him is what is being annihilated in this commercial – and that could have been done just as easily by attacking something about American women egalitarians don’t approve of. It runs deeper than that: this commercial, at root, is an attack upon wealth and happiness per se.
This commercial does not call a wealthy, happy lifestyle immoral outright (after all, it’s target audience are the very people it’s lampooning), but it does trivialize it. It invites the viewer to acknowledge, and laugh about, his desire or ability to be able to afford simple, unserious pleasures – and in doing so the company (State Farm) becomes emotionally bonded with the consumer (ie: the consumer is a morally-mixed person; someone who subconsciously, habitually, and implicitly – in his day to day actions – rejects altruism and egalitarianism, but who consciously embraces them). The value of the commercial – to such a person – is a moment of feeling understood. A moment where the pressure from this internal conflict are relieved. A moment where he can tell himself either “yes, I may be immoral, but at least I know it, and wish that I weren’t” or “no, I’m not immoral. That (buying falcons) is what the immorality of frivolity looks like.” This is the kind of twisted thinking that a multi-billion dollar insurance company is hoping will sway people in their insurance purchasing choices.
Why a company – which depends upon the existence of such people for it’s existence – thinks it is an intelligent marketing tactic to further inculcate it’s customer base with self-crippling philosophical notions for the sake of short-term gains brought about my momentary emotional manipulation is beyond the scope of this writing (the answer can be found here).